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New Ground

# 147

March -- April,

2013

Contents

Talkin' Socialism
Socialists on Facebook
"Today's Other America"
Nelson Algren
Robin Hood Tax
National Affairs
DSA in the News
Fighting Forward

New Ground 147.1 -- 04.01.2013

0. DSA News

You Are Invited!
Cornel West Speaks with DSA and YDS
Socialist International Africa Committee
"New Ground" Notes

1. Politics

Protest School Closings by Bob Roman
"Someone Like Me" Returns to Chicago by Bob Roman

2. Ars Politica

The "Les Miserables" Dichotomy: The U.S. and Socialism
'63 Boycott
"Never the Same"

3. Democratic Socialism

Unions and Coops
Unions and Co-Determination
Coops and Poverty
The Eurocrisis and the Assault on the Working Class

4. Upcoming Events of Interest

New Ground 147.2 -- 04.15.2013

0. DSA News

55 Years
"Today's Other America"
DSA in the News
Student / Youth Organizer

1. Politics

Death by a Thousand Budget Cuts
March BLS Jobs Report
Robin Hood Tax
Safe & Legal

2. People

Stephen Coats, 1952 - 2013

3. Democratic Socialism

The Femine Mystique at 50

New Ground 147.3 -- 04.27.2013

0. DSA News

Are You Coming to Dinner?
Organizing Amid the Wreckage of the Wagner Act
DSA in the News

1. Politics

Robin Hood Rally
Rhetoric Trumps Reality
Sugar Boycott Ending

2. Ars Politica

Version Festival 13

3. Democratic Socialism

On the Death of Financialised Capitalism
We Have Always Been Rentiers

4. Letters

Controlled by Monopolists

5. Upcoming Events of Interest


The Illinois Pension Debacle

by Bob Roman and Ron Baiman

Illinois' pension deficit is a state debt problem not a pension spending problem. For decades, we have been taxing the rich and corporations at much too low a rate to even support the present, stingy level of social spending in Illinois.

Among the 50 states, Illinois is 38th in the share of personal income taken by state and local taxes (2011 Census). Illinois taxes are highly regressive, with the most recent (2007) ITEP data showing that Illinois has the third highest rate of overall (income, sales, property) taxation of the lowest 20% of non-elderly families. This is surpassed only by Florida and Washington, states with no income taxes. Just 11 other states tax the top 1% of non-elderly families at a lower rate than Illinois.

Illinois ranks 44th in non-federally subsidized state spending on public services, net of pensions. We would have to increase our spending, as a share of state GDP, by $12.9 billion to be in the middle of the 50 states, according to 2011 NASBO and BEA data.

It doesn't need to be this way. Not even the lame excuse of "competitiveness" applies. The Illinois corporate income tax of 7% is lower than Wisconsin (7.9%) and lower than Indiana (8.5%). Furthermore, a Personal Property Tax is assessed on corporations in addition to the income tax in both Wisconsin and Indiana. According to the IDOR, in Illinois only about 10% of Illinois establishments (117,832) are C-corporations liable for corporate income tax. Of these, only a third pay any corporate income tax, and only somewhat less than 3% of them (367) pay more than a million in corporate income tax. Even if you make the unwarranted assumption that taxes determine business location, Illinois has room to raise business income taxes.

 

And that's not counting tax loopholes. Closing just 6 loopholes (CME Income Tax Reduction, Foreign Dividends, Domestic Production Credit, Online Hotel Purchases, Offshore Oil Drilling, Retailer's Discount) would bring in $880 million a year.

 

There are new taxes that would bring in even more revenue without affecting the average citizen at all. For example, a $1 per contract financial Speculation Sales Tax applying to high wealth financial traders would have raised up to $6.1 billion in 2011. See the January, 2013, Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice forum "Funding Strong Schools and Fair Pensions" at left.

 

But why should all this extra revenue go to pay pensions? The headlines proclaim a pension deficit of nearly $100 billion ($94.6 billion, according to the CGFA in June, 2012). The 1994 law regulating Illinois contributions to its pension systems was set up much like a balloon mortgage. It was never designed to work. It was intended to allow the State to continue paying as little as possible for as long as possible.

Most of the increase in Illinois' pension payments is due to an actuarial calculation, not excessive pension costs or real debt. The assumption behind unfunded pension liability is that there is no guarantee the institution behind the pension will be there to pay the pension. Income generating assets must be there instead. For a private corporation, this is a reasonable assumption. They come and they go. For governmental entities, particularly states, it is less so. The balloon payments toward that unfunded liability were $4.1 billion in FY 2012 and will be $5.1 billion in FY 2013. The "normal cost" of current pensions is $1.6 billion each year. The actual amount Illinois needs to pay each year in order to meet its obligations is far less than is required by its own laws though meet that obligation we must. Dodging it is unconstitutional in Illinois.

Don Washington at The Mayoral Tutorial blog said it well:

Taxpayers are not subsidizing anything. You see: a pension is a deferred payment of wages. A worker says that they will provide the public a needed service at a deep discount and then we, the public, promise that when they are no longer providing that service we will compensate them for the wages we should have paid them then but didn't. They put a little cash in and we put a little cash in and the state manages that cash and all is well in the future. The public employees have not stopped putting cash in and they have not stopped not being paid what their work is worth. Unless you subscribe to the fantastical theory that teachers, firefighters, police officers and others are simply paid far too money now you can't believe they are the problem with our budgets and pensions.

Not fulfilling the negotiated pensions is wage theft. And wage thieves are no better than horse thieves in this part of the country.

Post Script

by Bob Roman

One of the difficulties of banging out an article at the last minute with a co-author is an occasional failure to communicate, losing some important subtleties along the way.

Illinois does not have a personal property tax, for individuals or for corporations. The much hated, much evaded tax was abolished for individuals in 1969 and for businesses in 1979. Some downstate Illinois communities advertise this absence as an argument to attract new businesses. But wait! Illinois does have a personal property tax for some businesses. It's a 2.5% income tax surcharge on corporations. This money goes directly to local governments to replace the revenue lost when the taxes were abolished. Thus the claim, by some business groups, that Illinois has the highest corporate income tax in the region. But, as Ron Baiman put it:

Unlike Wisconsin and Indiana, local governments in Illinois do not assess a separate "Personal Property Tax" (PPT) directly on the "personal property" of corporations. Rather a 2.5% Personal Property Replacement Tax (PPRT) is assessed on corporate income and rebated to local governments. A proper "apples to apples" comparison of state Corporate Income Tax (CIT) among states should therefore exclude Illinois' 2.5% PPRT and the direct PPT assessed on corporate personal property in other states as these funds go to local government and do not add to state CIT revenue in any of these states.

One can well imagine Mr. Suit N. Tie grumbling, "Well, wherever the money goes, all I notice is: It's gone." He's got a point, except the story doesn't end there. The Illinois CIT and PPRT are both taxes on income. The personal property tax (like the property tax on real estate and the estate tax paid on inheritance) is a tax on wealth. It makes direct comparisons rather awkward.

The question comes down to the total tax burden on corporations and citizens. It's messy. It should include local taxes as well as tax evasion both legal, illegal, and yet to be decided legal. Just one example, in Illinois, home rule governments have fairly broad taxing powers. In November of 2012, Cook County passed a one-time "personal property tax" on items purchased outside the county, effective April 1, 2013 (no kidding) -- with exceptions, of course! The County Board meant well, but does anyone think the County is competent to enforce this?


Jobs and the US Economy:
The February 2013 Employment Report

by Bill Barclay

So, what's not to like about the US economy? The stock market is making all time (nominal) highs, corporate profits at record levels, housing prices rising -- well, maybe there's still the question of jobs: the lack thereof. Today's BLS jobs report is certainly better than many of those in the past year: 236,000 jobs created compared to the 2011 - 2012 averages, both of which were in the 150 - 155,000/month range. That level of job creation is sufficient to absorb new entrants plus 35 - 40,000 unemployed. The level of job creation in February would provide about 120,000 jobs above the level of new labor market entrants. However, the downward revision of the new jobs numbers for January 2013 leaves 2013 YTD with only 60,000 / month job creation above the level necessary to provide jobs for new labor force entrants.

Let's put these numbers in context: there remain over 12 million officially unemployed and another almost 7 million people classified as "not in the labor force" but stating that they want a job. Even at the rate of job creation for February, 2013, it would take 158 months -- 13 years -- to provide jobs for all who seek them. The experience of past recessions suggests that the actual number of jobs needed is actually greater than 19 million; when/if job creation picks up after a recession, many people who have given up looking for work return to seeking jobs.

Another way of putting these numbers in context is to remember that there are 2.5 million fewer people employed today than in December, 2007, the month that marks the beginning of the Great Recession. Further, since that date, the same time the labor force has grown by almost 2 million and those "not in the labor force" have grown by 12 million. Or you can just remember that if these 19 million people were standing shoulder to shoulder, they would stretch from Bangor Maine to Los Angeles and back -- and there would still be 2 million people not in that line.

When we break down the unemployed by gender, ethnicity and race, we find the long-term patterns of unequal labor market access continuing. While the Great Recession saw heavier job losses among males than females, over the past year males have accounted for 75% of total employment growth. Comparing unemployment by race and ethnicity, the unemployment rate for African Americans is 13.8% and for Hispanics 9.6% vs. an overall unemployment rate of 7.7% and 6.8% for white workers.

These are the figures. But we must always remember that, behind the dry numbers, are stories of dreams destroyed, of families under stress that often exceeds the breaking point, of foreclosed homes because there is no money for the mortgages, and of lost potential for us all, both the unemployed and the employed.

It is, therefore fitting that Rep. John Conyers has announced plans to reintroduce his "21st Century Full Employment and Training Act" and that Rep. Ellison plans to reintroduce his bill that levies a small tax on the trading of financial assets with the revenues targeted to job creation. DSA has endorsed both of these initiatives (see dsausa.org for literature on these proposals) and we remain convinced that recovery from the financial crisis and the subsequent economic stagnation requires much, much more than too many of our legislators in Washington have even conceived, much less done. We must constantly push our political and economic elite to move off the dead end of deficits and instead recognize the needs of our people for full time, living wage employment.

Editor's Note: a version of this article was prepared earlier as the Chicago Political Economy Group's commentary on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' February jobs report. See www.cpegonline.org .


Support the Chicago Abortion Fund

by Peg Strobel

In and around the month of April, DSA and YDS groups around the country are expressing the support for women who seek abortion by participating in a real or virtual Bowl-A-Thon: bowling for fun and fundraising.

Socialist feminists know that women deserve free abortion on demand, a full range of reproductive health care and family services and an economic system allowing for full employment and compensation for care-giving of the elderly and young. "Reproductive justice" is a concept that moves beyond the notions of "choice" and "rights." It links the calls for reproductive choice (a woman's right to control her own body) to the broader issues of economic justice and human rights (creating conditions that enable people to have children, not only to not have them). Access to abortion is one small, but critical, part of reproductive justice.

Anti-abortion forces have greatly limited women's ability to exercise their right through legislated restrictions. Lack of money is an ongoing problem for some women. And that's a problem that we can help remedy right now.

The Chicago Abortion Fund, or CAF (chicagoabortionfund.com ), has a mission that is not limited to providing funds for low-income women, though doing so is an important part of their work: "The Chicago Abortion Fund fights to overturn economic barriers to reproductive choice. Through direct service, CAF assists women in obtaining safe abortion services. In partnership with the women we serve, CAF engages and mobilizes low-income and poor women to become advocates for expanded reproductive access."

How can you help? Go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/336918 and donate. Or, if you want to join a team and bowl on March 30, contact CAF for information at 312.663.0336.

Spread the word to friends outside Chicago. Find a list of cities where bowl-a-thons are happening at http://bowlathon.nnaf.org/nnafbowl/findevent.asp .

For more about CAF, listen to Chicago DSA's "Talkin' Socialism" interview, episode 11: www.chicagodsa.org /audarch6.html.


The Abuse of the Rich Continues!
Swiss Voters Make It (somewhat) Harder to Get Paid Obscene Amounts

by Bill Barclay

It seems like every day there is yet another attack on the wealthy -- increased high end tax rates in the US, proposals to cap bonuses in Europe. Where will it end? Will they all move to other countries?

Well, one place they're not likely to move to is Switzerland. On March 3, Swiss voters approved a proposal that will give shareholders a final say on the compensation of CEOs, corporate directors and other high paid execs. Further, pension funds are required to participate in these shareholder votes. In addition -- and perhaps more significantly -- the proposal also prohibits the front end signing bonuses and back end golden parachutes that are rampant in the top levels of the corporate world. And the proposal didn't just pass -- it passed with almost 68% of the vote. Even in business friendly Switzerland, people are fed up with excess, the gross inequality that is the single most striking feature of neoliberal capitalism and probably the policy that neoliberal care most passionately about.

The success of the referendum was undoubtedly helped by the announcement of Novartis during the campaign that they planned to pay their departing CEO $78 million as a farewell present. As a spokeswoman for the business federation that campaigned against the proposal admitted, there were "major mistakes" by her side, adding that after the Novartis announcement, "It became impossible to return to a reasonable debate (translation, the voters saw the reality and didn't like it). One of the other arguments of the opposition was that obscene levels of compensation were necessary

Of course, the shareholders will have to act and, like the US, stock ownership in Swiss located companies is concentrated among upper income families and large institutions. However, unlike the compensation committees made up of "Friends of the CEO," shareholders can be anyone or any institution. This means much less control by the CEO and directors of the compensation decision. Opponents of the proposal -- and this included all the major political parties in Switzerland -- also trotted out the notion that it would scare away top international talent as CEOs leave for greener pastures elsewhere. However, this common shibboleth ignores the reality of who becomes a CEO. Over 80% of the CEOs at the world's largest companies come from inside the firm and less than 0.5% are poached from another company where they were CEOs.

This is clearly not THE answer to out-of control inequality but it is an interesting tactic.


Cancel the Sequester; Create Jobs!

A statement by the DSA National Political Committee.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) supports the bill advanced by John Conyers (D-MI), HR 900, to simply cancel the $85 billion in "sequestration" cuts. These cuts will harm millions of low-income Americans, while weakening an already anemic, jobless recovery.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the cuts are fully carried out, they will cause a 0.6% drop in GDP and a loss of over 700,000 jobs. The layoffs of 700,000 public employees since 2008 have already contributed to unconscionable levels of unemployment.

We do not have a deficit crisis in this country; we have a jobs crisis. Sequestering will increase the deficit--not decrease it--by slowing the economic recovery and by keeping more people out of work and not paying taxes. We need a 21st-century full employment program to make public investments that help the long-term unemployed and returning veterans find decent jobs that contribute to the economy and to society. The sequester adds to the jobs crisis by reducing extended unemployment benefits and slashing job training programs for returning veterans.

The domestic sequestration cuts will have particularly harsh effects on our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. For the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, they mandate 12% cuts in Title I aid to low-income schools and child nutrition programs (WIC). Seventy thousand children will lose Head Start; 14,000 K-12 school teachers will be laid off; and 600,000 women and infants will be denied nutrition assistance. In addition, 125,000 families will risk homelessness because of cuts in federal rental assistance, and 375,000 mentally ill and disabled citizens will lose desperately needed social services.

The sequester will also cripple the vital work of federal regulatory agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration will have to furlough 4,000 employees each day, leading to massive flight delays and a decrease in flight safety. Over the next seven months, 2,100 fewer food safety inspections will be conducted at food processing plants. In addition, hundreds of thousands of government employees will experience a 12% drop in pay.

Although we should cut massive amounts of Pentagon pork, the automatic cuts in defense instead disproportionately target civilian employees of the Pentagon for layoffs rather than slashing wasteful and unneeded new weapons programs.

Contrary to the corporate-led drumbeat to "Fix the Debt," we do not have a spending problem in Washington. We have a revenue shortage caused by massive tax giveaways to the rich and corporations. We could achieve fiscal balance by restoring taxes on corporations and the rich to the pre-Reagan rates and by instituting a modest financial transactions tax. In addition, we could create jobs through cutting unnecessary weapons programs and using these funds for public investments in infrastructure, mass transit and alternative energy. The Congressional Progressive Caucus's "Balancing Act" would carry out these measures.

DSA also rejects President Obama's flirtation with a cut in the cost-of-living adjustment formula that protects seniors on Social Security from inflation. Instead, DSA backs the call of Alan Grayson (D-FL), Mark Takano (D-CA) and 25 other progressive Democratic members of the House to reject any cuts in the real value of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits.

Rather than cut programs that benefit the vast majority and the vulnerable, we must take steps to secure their future. Future Social Security benefits can be readily guaranteed by removing the $113,700 cap on income subjected to the Social Security payroll tax. And we can rein in runaway health care costs by having the federal government use its huge purchasing power to lower the costs of drugs and by moving towards a Medicare for All system that would eliminate the waste of a for-profit private insurance system.

A brief glance at the disastrous effects of austerity politics in Europe demonstrates that you can't cut your way out of a Great Recession. The sequester serves only to deepen the economic crisis. It must be reversed.


Other News

Compiled by Bob Roman

Talkin' Socialism

Episode 25, recorded 03-09-2013: Cleaning Up After ICE -- Colleen Dille and Michael Gosch from the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants discuss how migrants and refugees released from Federal custody have often lost everything while finding themselves hundreds of miles from home. Volunteers from the Post-Detention Accompaniment Network are there to help get them home. For additional information, visit Detention Watch Network, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Protection.

MP3 (26.2 MB) or OGG VORBIS (31.8 MB).

Socialists on Facebook

Greater Oak Park DSA now has a Facebook page: facebook.com/GOPDSA . As of this instant in typing, the page has accumulated 31 "likes". Compared to the Chicago DSA Facebook page, it's pretty lively (though Chicago DSA has 392 "likes"). Check it out. Like us.

"Today's Other America"

On Sunday, April 28, Greater Oak Park DSA and the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice will screen Michael Harrington and Today's Other America: Corporate Power and Inequality. Directed by Bill Donovan and based on interviews done in the late 1990s, the film explores the ongoing relevance of the work of Michael Harrington, one of DSA's founders. Harrington's book The Other America helped launch President's Johnson's War on Poverty in 1964. Today, we face expanding poverty, the result of decades of corporate greed, declining rates of unionization and wages that haven't kept up with inflation -- and that was before the Great Recession and foreclosures hit.

During the 1960s and 1970s, in response to government programs, the official poverty rate in the U.S. declined, falling from 17% in 1965 to 11% in 1978. The rate then increased throughout the 1980s but fell back to 11% in 2000. However, in 8 of the first 11 years of the 21st century the rate has risen. It is now back to 15%, by official count. Another way of defining poverty is to consider incomes less than half of the median income as poor. Using this definition, over 19% of the U.S. population are poor. (In comparison, most western and northern European countries have less than 10% of their people at incomes less than half the median.) Recently the Brookings Institution reported that one-third of Americans live in poverty or near-poverty, while Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker's work demonstrates that over half of American families have experienced serious economic troubles over the past decade.

Join us to see the film: Sunday, April 28, 2 PM to 4 PM, 2nd floor small meeting room, Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street, Oak Park 60301.

Nelson Algren

The Nelson Algren Committee hosts the 24th annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party on Saturday, March 23, 8 PM, at the Bloomingdale Arts Building, 2418 W. Bloomingdale (just west of Western Ave., and near the Blue Line's Western stop). The party celebrates the writer who depicted mid-20th-century urban America with a cool eye and a compassionate heart, as seen in such masterpieces as The Man with the Golden Arm, Neon Wilderness, Never Come Morning and his great prose poem, Chicago: City on the Make.

This year's recipient of the coveted Nelson Algren Committee Award is Tom Palazzolo, Chicago filmmaker extraordinaire, who will show some of his outstanding work. The party features a one-of-a-kind blend of readings, poetry, music and video, as well as tributes to Algren and commentary on his continued relevance. Admission is $10 at the door, $5 for seniors and students with ID.

For more information about the program and the committee, go to www.nelsonalgren.org .

Robin Hood Tax

The Speculation Sales Tax is now represented in the Illinois General Assembly by two bills. That they are virtually identical is a bit difficult, but it suggests there's a bandwagon about to start moving. To sign a petition in support, go to www.chicagodsa.org under "Take Action".

National Affairs

Wednesday, March 20, 8 PM Eastern: March New Member Orientation. Conference call. RSVP required for call-in number. Call 212.727.8610 or go to www.dsausa.org/calendar. Are you a newly joined DSA member? Come learn about the different ways to get involved!

Saturday, March 23, 3 PM to 4:30 PM Eastern: Member training webinar on active outreach and recruitment. RSVP required. Go to www.dsausa.org/training_webinar_active_outreach_2013323

DSA has joined the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (nnirr.org).

DSA in the News

From New Ground 146.1, we noted that, like the Boston Review, The New York Times interviewed Bhaskar Sunkara about Jacobin. And of course DSA came up. Demonstrating both the incredible "market penetration" DSA has achieved among conservatives and conservatives' utter vacuity, Saki Knafo at the Huffington Post interviewed the president of a gun rights group at Lone Star College shortly after a shooting there, and found him fretting over DSA's evil influence on Obama.

From New Ground 146.2, DSA used Boulder's Left Hand Books as a meeting place, noted the Daily Camera in a story about the bookstore's closing. David Anderson, a DSA activist who helped found the bookstore in the 1970s, has a brief history of the store in the Boulder Weekly. DSA was used as an example of why changing demography will not lead the Democratic Party to victory in a commentary in the Memphis Flyer. (The Memphis DSA Organizing Committee posted a response.) Kent State University's Kent Wired noted YDS' participation in demonstration against Andrew Sullivan's presentation on campus, with interviews. WSLR's "A Community of Voices" program interviewed DSA National Director Maria Svart about socialism.

Since then Bhaska Sunkara posted at Jacobin the transcript of a talk he gave at the Young Democratic Socialists' winter conference. Ohio University's Interactivist covered a demonstration protesting Citizens United organized by the YDS chapter there. At The Aquarian Weekly ("New Jersey's oldest alternative weekly"), an essay on the "S" word by Alex Benson mentioned DSA. The same issue included a long article by Benson covering the YDS winter conference.

Fighting Forward

We're fighting forward! That's the title of this year's Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner because, for the first time in decades, it's likely that even our defensive battles are setting the stage for future victories. What better time to celebrate our accomplishments and to take inspiration for future victories and reversing past defeats? You're invited!

Our honorees this year all fight forward: William McNary, Keith Kelleher, and the Chicago Teachers Union. Our featured speaker is Amy Dean. The 2013 Dinner will be at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza on Friday evening, May 3rd. This is a union hotel next to the Merchandise Mart. For more information, CLICK HERE.


Upcoming Events of Interest

Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

Tuesday, March 19, 11 AM to 12:30 PM
Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets
Elgin Community College, Jobe Lounge, 1700 Spartan Dr, Elgin
Undocumented students speak out. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, March 19, 3:30 PM
College of DuPage Candidate Forum
CoD Student Resource Center 2000, 425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn
Opportunity to ask questions about the militarization of campus. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, March 19, 7 PM to 9 PM
"Lessons from the Heartland"
Concordia University Chicago (Chapel), 7400 August St, River Forest
Barbara Miner about her new book. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, March 19, 7 PM
The Case Against High Stakes Standardized Testing
Mt Carmel M B Church, 2976 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago
Jesse Hagopian (MAP test boycott) and Karen Lewis (CTU). MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, March 20, 11:15 AM
Stop the Sequester Rally
Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn, Chicago
Stand with federal employees against the federal budget nonsense. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, March 20, 1 PM to 2 PM
Rise of the Drones
Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington 1 Garland, Chicago
Ruth Brown, Equal Justice Fellow ACLU. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, March 20, 7 PM
10 Years Since Iraq; The Changing Face of War
Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago
Featuring Peter Lems, Kait McIntyre, Vince Emanuele, Victoria Crider, Andy Thayer. Music. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, March 20, 7 PM
Racist Budget Cuts!
NALC Branch 11 Hall, 3850 S. Wabash, Chicago
Panel on how austerity hurts communities of color. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, March 21, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
"Absolutely Safe"
UIC School of Public Health Auditorium, 1603 W. Taylor St, Chicago
Film and discussion on women's health topics. Reservations and MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, March 21, 6 PM to 7 PM
Fighting for the Soul of Public Education
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
Conversation with Barbara Miner about her new book, "Lessons from the Heartland". Reservations & MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, March 21, 6 PM
Accountability Session with Alderman Cappleman
Ward Office, 4544 N. Broadway, Chicago
Get a commitment to keep SROs open. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, March 21, 6:30 PM to 8 PM
From Chicago Out to the World
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark, Chicago
Advancing LGBTQ human rights. Sid Mohn, Keren Zwick, Stefano Fabeni, Lynette Jackson. $15. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, March 21, 7 PM to 9 PM
Democracy Across the Oceans
Citizen Advocacy Center, 182 N. York St, Elmhurst
Maryam Judar on democracy and human rights in Egypt and Morocco. MORE INFORMATION.

Friday, March 22, 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM
"Moving Policy, Making Progress"
Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, 540 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago
The Illinois Kids Count 2013 symposium. $25. MORE INFORMATION.

Friday, March 22, 11:30 AM to 1 PM
Anti-Fracking Rally
Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, Chicago
Green jobs not dirty fracking. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, March 23, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Building Peace in Chicago and Beyond
Klarchek Information Commons, 6501 N. Kenmore Ave, Chicago
50th Anniversary of Pacem in Terris. Pre-Registration recommended. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, March 23, 1 PM
Faith in Struggle
Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted St, Chicago
Rev. Addie Wyatt's fight for labor, civil rights, and women's rights. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, March 23, 8 PM
24th Annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party
Bloomingdale Arts Building, 2418 W. Bloomingdale, Chicago
Honoring Tom Palazzolo. Music, video, poetry. $10. MORE INFORMATION.

Sunday, March 24, NOON
A Remedy for Violence
Logan Square Monument, Logan Blvd, Kedzie Ave, & Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
Beginning a conversation about ending violence. MORE INFORMATION.

Sunday, March 24, 3 PM to 5 PM
Delivering for America
Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
Rally to preserve Saturday delivery of mail. MORE INFORMATION.

Sunday, March 24, 6 PM to 8 PM
"On the Bridge"
Molly Malone's, 7652 Madison St, Forest Park
Documentary on PTSD. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, March 25, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Marriage Equality Now!
Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, Chicago
Rally, march, and vigil in protest of DOMA. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, March 27, 4 PM
Support Public Schools. Don't Close Them!
Daley Plaza, Clark & Washington, Chicago
Rally and march in support of public education, against school closings. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, March 28, 6 PM
Illinois Domestic Worker Bill of Rights
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
Ai-Jen Poo of National Domestic Workers Alliance and Senator Ira Silverstein. MORE INFORMATION.

Friday, March 29, NOON
Roll Away the Stone
Congress & Michigan, Chicago
33rd Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice. MORE INFORMATION.

Friday, March 29, 3 PM to 5 PM
"The Predator"
Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago
A passion play for the drone era by Jack Gilroy. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 3, 2 PM to 4 PM
Making Crime and Criminals
UIC Latino Cultural Center Lecture Center B2, Chicago
Professor Macias-Rojas on incarceration and citizenship on the Arizona - Sonoran border. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 3, 7 PM
The Social Psychology of War
the Tau Center, 26W171 Roosevelt Rd, Wheaton
Presentation by Professor Christian Goergen. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 4, 6:30 PM
The Eurocrisis and the Assault on the Working Class
DePaul University Richardson Library Rosati Room (300), 2350 N. Kenmore, Chicago
Steve McGiffen, editor of "Spectrezine". MORE INFORMATION.


New Ground #147.1

04.01.2013

Contents

0. DSA News

You Are Invited!
Cornel West Speaks with DSA and YDS
Socialist International Africa Committee
"New Ground" Notes

1. Politics

Protest School Closings by Bob Roman
"Someone Like Me" Returns to Chicago by Bob Roman

2. Ars Politica

The "Les Miserables" Dichotomy: The U.S. and Socialism
'63 Boycott
"Never the Same"

3. Democratic Socialism

Unions and Coops
Unions and Co-Determination
Coops and Poverty
The Eurocrisis and the Assault on the Working Class

4. Upcoming Events of Interest

Debs Thomas Harrington



DSA News

You Are Invited!
Please accept this invitation to attend an inspiring, informative event, the 55th annual Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner. This will be Friday evening, May 3, at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza in downtown Chicago, next to the Merchandise Mart. We will be honoring William McNary (Citizen Action/Illinois), Keith Kelleher (SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana), and the Chicago Teachers Union. Our featured speaker is Amy Dean. To order tickets by mail, CLICK HERE for a printable (PDF) flyer. For more information or to order tickets online, CLICK HERE.

Cornel West Speaks with DSA & YDS
Cornel West gave a wide-ranging interview to Chris Maisano, YDS co-chairs Beth Cozzolino and Matt Porter, and Maria Svart during the YDS winter conference, on the legacy of the 1963 March on Washington and the challenges facing the country and the left today. CLICK HERE.

Socialist International Africa Committee
The Socialist International's Africa Committee met in Niamey, Niger, on March 17 and 18. The focus of the meeting was on the crisis in Mali and its implications for the region and Africa in general. MORE.

"New Ground" Notes
Folks who've paid attention have noticed that New Ground has evolved into a kind of semi-monthly, with three numbers being issued via email / web and one being print / web. This schedule may be disrupted for April and May, or it may not, but even if you hadn't noticed, you deserve a heads-up. The problem is that each issue, particularly the "Upcoming Events" section (probably the best political calendar in Chicago), has become seriously labor intensive. Since so much in politics is planned with a short time horizon, trying doing it in advance doesn't save much time. But -- we'll see.

Incidentally, we've experimented with calendars in the past when the publication was exclusively print, but bi-monthly never worked too well and paper space is expensive. You can thank Libby Frank for re-starting the "Upcoming Events" section back when she was Political Education Director. If you are involved in an upcoming political event in the Chicago area, feel free to pass it along. It really should include a web URL that provides "more information". I won't guarantee inclusion (for example, we don't usually include fundraising events), but being a Chicago DSA member will count for a lot. -- Bob Roman



Politics

Protest School Closings
by Bob Roman
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and friends brought together a large downtown evening rush hour protest on March 27, complete with scripted civil disobedience. It had become an uncomfortably chilly afternoon. Some in the Chicago Police Department estimated the crowd at no more than a thousand. Supporters said four to eight thousand. For my part, eight thousand seems very plausible as a count of all those who participated, and it was a good mix of community organizations, parents, students, and union members. At any one moment the count may have been somewhere north four thousand. People came and went. CANTV broadcast the entire event live, though the first 4 minutes of the recording is waiting for the rally to begin.
 


The ritualized civil disobedience may seem a bit inauthentic, especially as it becomes used more frequently. However, it was absolutely necessary as a dramatic hook on which mainstream media could hang a story. Journalists did not seem inclined to cover the story otherwise; they seem to make the same calculation as Mayor Emanuel: It's mostly over except the shouting. Likewise, mainstream media were not pleased with CTU President Karen Lewis' charge of racism. After all, only about 8% of CPS enrollment is white. Apart from those with a guilty conscience, some of this stems from a wide spread misconception that racism is just another word for bigotry or prejudice. Racism is about keeping a particular ethnic or national group in an inferior, oppressed, exploited position. Prejudice and bigotry may be called into serve that end, but neither are necessary for racism.

I suspect Emanuel's calculation is that his biggest electoral weakness, in the next Mayoral election, is in the Black communities. At the same time, this particular electorate has been notable in its consistent failure to organize on its own behalf and that is unlikely to change by the time of the next election. Therefore, if you want to sell off public education to potential campaign contributors, those are the communities to target. Furthermore, while some of the biggest union locals in the city were represented at the rally, the union movement was similarly disunited in the last municipal election. If the economy has not improved much by the next election, all you will need to do is waive jobs in the air to wreck solidarity.

Additional coverage and commentary about the rally:

Progress Illinois' coverage is HERE, and In These Times is HERE.

GOPDSA member Bob Simpson points out that there is a community-based alternative to Board of Education's school closing plan HERE. Don Washington, at Mayoral Tutorial, reinforces the point HERE, and Washington provides some additional context HERE.

At In These Times, Kenzo Shibata points out how the current Chicago Public Schools CEO Byrd-Bennett was hired to specifically to close schools; it is part of her resume, HERE. Labor Beat produced a documentary about the bogus hearings leading up to the school closure plan HERE. And prior to the release of the school closure plan, Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education released a paper on just how well the arguments in favor of school closures (underperformance, cost savings, and underutilization) stand up under examination HERE.

At The Progressive Fox, John Laesch follows the money to Senator Heather Steans, Stand for Children, and charter school enterprises HERE. David Sirota provides a look of how it works as a business strategy HERE.


"Someone Like Me" Returns to Chicago
by Bob Roman
Last December, UNITE HERE kicked off its campaign to bring codetermination to the Hyatt corporation with a rally outside the company's international headquarters in Chicago. The union is campaigning to have one of its members, Cathy Youngblood or, perhaps, someone like her, appointed as an additional member of the company's board of directors: representation not unlike that often found in European companies.

On Wednesday, March 20, Cathy Youngblood returned to Chicago for something similar to an election rally. Several hundred people crowded into the Chicago Temple in downtown Chicago to hear her, and others, speak. Of course, it was largely preaching to the disenfranchised; very few of us are well off enough to vote in company matters, nevermind that it is a democracy of dollars not people. In that sense, this campaign stop had something in common with that long tradition of minor party candidates who campaign more to deliver a message. While Youngblood spent some time speaking about the benefits of having worker representation on the board, perhaps her more important message was for workers to be unafraid to speak up when confronted with abuse, exploitation or unfairness.

 


Does this mean Youngblood's campaign is a "symbolic" exercise in sentimentality, in the manner of so many lefty sects that pretend to be parties? Probably not, as it's not clear that gaining a seat on the board is the primary objective. But whatever the case, the decision will not be left only to the formal votes of dollars for or against shareholder resolutions. Street heat will play a role, too. And in that context, Hilton's recent settlement with UNITE HERE in six cities helps clear the deck for further action.


Ars Politica

The "Les Miserables" Dichotomy: The U.S. and Socialism
At The Wordshed, DSA member Philip Vernon writes:

...let us try this axiom on for size: the United States loves Les Miserables. Les Miserables is a romantic and heroic story of community and collective action. Does the U.S. then love socialism?

Is it really this simple? Mainstream U.S. consumers love socialism?

MORE.

'63 Boycott
Kartemquin Films is producing a documentary film and companion web site on the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott: Some 200,000 Chicagoans, students mostly, marched to protest the segregationist policies of Superintendent Benjamin Willis. The producers are looking for people who participated in the march. MORE INFORMATION.

"Never the Same"
World premier at the Siskel Film Center, Saturday, April 6 and Sunday April 7: "More than twenty years in the making, this innovative documentary by three-time Emmy Award-winning director Jan Thompson depicts the experience of American POWs in WWII Japanese camps largely through their poems, songs, drawings and cartoons, many brought to life through animation. Starved and brutalized, the men meet horror with American ingenuity and gallows humor, all abundantly evident as survivors describe the daily struggle for survival reinforced by soul-saving fantasies, pranks, jokes, and even recipes. Additional narration by Ed Asner, Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner, Robert Wagner, and more." MORE INFORMATION.



Democratic Socialism

Unions and Coops
Back in 2009, the United Steelworkers made something of a splash by announcing a partnership with Spain's Mondragon cooperatives, looking to bring that partnership to the United States. (See New Ground 126.3 "National Cooperative Month" and New Ground 134.1 "Mondragon and the US Steelworkers Partnership: an Update".) Three years later, they had progressed to the point of releasing a "template" for such enterprises. (See New Ground 141.1 "Union Coops".) "Template" was probably a good word choice as the document was too vague to be legitimately a business plan. Nonetheless, there has been progress. Amy Dean provides an update HERE.

Unions and CoDetermination
UAW President Bob King has been widely quoted as saying that if the UAW can't organize workers in southern states, the UAW has no future: Widely quoted, mostly by those who vaguely or specifically hope the UAW has no future, it seems. So it was fairly big news in the mainstream media when it came out that the UAW has been talking to Volkswagen about setting up a "German-style labor board" at the company's assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The idea turns out to be an initiative of Horst Neumann, who is a member of the German Volkswagen labor board representing the union IG Metall. IG Metall has been supporting the UAW's organizing drive in Chattanooga, and apparently U.S. labor law would require a labor board to have a union's participation to be legal. It would otherwise be considered something akin to a "company union." For more on this, see The Chicago Tribune, Nooga, and Automotive News.

Coops and Poverty
Meche Sansores, Executive Director of Women's Action to Gain Economic Security, provides this commentary on a network of service coops in California's Bay Area based on the Mondragon model.

The Eurocrisis and the Assault on the Working Class
A presentation by Professor Steve McGiffen: The European Union does not represent some kinder, gentler version of capitalism responsible for the celebrated 'European model' of social democracy. Whilst such a model is far more than a mere myth, the EU has in reality launched an all-out attack on the social welfare states which are its foundation. Since its the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty twenty years ago, it has become the principal means by which neoliberalism is being imposed within Europe. The aspects of European life which often seem most attractive to visitors from the United States, or from anywhere lacking a developed social state, are precisely what the EU was established to undermine and ultimately destroy.

Steve McGiffen, now associate professor of International Relations at the American Graduate School in Paris, France worked for eighteen years at the European Parliament, and from 2000 to 2005 was a member of the Secretariat of the United Left Group of radical left parties, representing the Socialist Party of the Netherlands. He is editor of www.spectrezine.org. This event brought to you by the Institute for Working Class History.

Thursday, April 4, 6:30 PM, The Rosati Room (300) of the Richardson Library, DePaul University, 2350 N. Kenmore, Chicago.



Upcoming Events of Interest

Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

Tuesday, April 2, NOON
Rally for the Future of Social Security
Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, Chicago
No cuts. Scrap the cap. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 2, 4:30 PM to 7 PM
Climate Justice: Stories and Strategies
Roosevelt University Wabash Building, 425 S. Wabash Ave Room 317, Chicago
Climate justice and communities affected by resource extraction, films and speakers. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 2, 6 PM
Comics and Working Class History
Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan, Chicago
Paul Buhle will present his pathbreaking historical collaborations with comic book artists. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 3, 2 PM to 4 PM
Making Crime and Criminals
UIC Latino Cultural Center Lecture Center B2, 803 S. Morgan, Chicago
Professor Macias-Rojas on incarceration and citizenship on the Arizona - Sonoran border. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 3, 7 PM
The Social Psychology of War
the Tau Center, 26W171 Roosevelt Rd, Wheaton
Presentation by Professor Christian Goergen. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 4, 6 PM
Release Party for Area #13
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St, Chicago
Readings from the latest issue: Home Fronts, Housing Struggles. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 4, 6:30 PM
The Eurocrisis and the Assault on the Working Class
DePaul University Richardson Library Rosati Room (300), 2350 N. Kenmore, Chicago
Steve McGiffen, editor of "Spectrezine". MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 6, 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Latino Nation: Beyond the Numbers
Chicago State University, 9501 S. King Dr, Chicago
All day conference featuring Tavis Smiley. Pre-registration REQUIRED. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 6, 10 AM
Let's Talk TIFs
Chicago State University, Cordell Student Union Rotunda, 9501 S. King Dr., Chicago
Tracking the dollars: there's treasure in your neighborhood. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 6, 12:30 PM to 4 PM
Restorative Justice. Gender Justice. Global Justice.
UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd, Chicago
Two panels on the meaning of justice, amends, accountability. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 6, 7 PM
"The Scarlet Road"
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St, Chicago
Documentary on Australian sex worker Rachel Wotton. Panel discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 6, 7:30 PM
"Mesnak"
Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark St, Chicago
Presented as part of the First Nations Film and Video Festival. $8. MORE INFORMATION.

Sunday, April 7, 6:30 PM to 8 PM
Genocide in America Presentation & Planning Forum
Occupy Freedom School, 6026 S. Vernon Ave, Chicago
Seminar and solution based discussion on upcoming action. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, April 8, 6 PM to 7 PM
"The Tough Luck Constitution and the Assault on Health Care Reform"
Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave, Chicago
Andrew Koppelman on Supreme Court libertarianism. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, April 8, 6:30 PM
"Gideon's Army"
Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St, Chicago
Public defenders in the deep south. $admission. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 9, 10:30 AM
Chicago Needs to Heal
City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, 5th Floor, Chicago
Rally and press conference to demand mental health clinic reopening. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 9, Noon to 1 PM
Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams St, Chicago
Odette Wilkens address difficulties the act presents to activists and ongoing court challenge to its constitutionality. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 9, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
Race and Chicago Politics
International House Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th St, Chicago
On the occasion of the 30 year anniversary of Harold Washington's election as Mayor: David Axelrod, Michael Dawson, Jackie Grimshaw, moderated by Laura Washington. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 10, 7 PM
Drug Policy in the U.S.
Park Forest Public Library, 400 Lakewood Blvd, Park Forest
Panel on Pros and Cons of legalizing "drugs". MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 10, 7:30 PM
"Atomic Mom"
Columbia College Hokin Hall, 623 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago
Documentary confronting U.S. nuclear history in a completely new way. $8. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 11, Noon to 1 PM
Hate Crimes in Chicago
UIC CUPPA Hall Room 330, 412 S. Peoria St, Chicago
Paul Schewe and Alicia Phoenix Matthews on the effects of race, gender, and sexual orientation. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 11, 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM
"Above the Din of War"
Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave, Chicago
Peter Eichstaedt attempts to answer: What happens when international forces finally vacate Afghanistan? MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 11, 6 PM
Parades as Protest
Intuit Center, 756 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
Therese Quinn presents a brief queer history of activism in Chicago. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 11, 7 PM
Let's Talk TIF in Uptown
Peoples Church, 941 W. Lawrence, Chicago
Tom Tresser's presentation on Tax Increment Financing districts. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 11, 6:40 PM to 8 PM
The Single-Payer Movement and the Robin Hood Tax
Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago
Why do we care? Speaker from the National Nurses United. MORE INFORMATION.

Friday, April 12, 6 PM to 10 PM
Now Is the Day
Uri-Eichen Gallery, 2101 S. Halsted, Chicago
Chicago young artists and musicians for immigration reform. MORE INFORMATION.

Friday, April 12, 7:20 PM
"The Other Side of Immigration"
DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church, 1828 Old Naperville Rd, Naperville
Screening of documentary and discussion led by Cristobal Cavazos. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 13, Noon to 2 PM
Strategy Session
Church of the Living God, 1732 W. Marquette Rd, Chicago
Implementing a campaign for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 13, 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Who's Stealing Our Education?
Rogers Park Public Library, 6907 N. Clark St, Chicago
Its global dimensions. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 14, 2 PM
Uprisings: Illinois Miners Revolt!
Elgin Area Historical Society & History Museum, 360 Park St, Elgin
Role of miners in Illinois, presentation by Rosemary Feurer. MORE INFORMATION.

Sunday, April 14, 2 PM
Seeing Through the Smoke Screen
LaGrange Park Library, 555 N. LaGrange Rd, LaGrange Park
Kathy Kelly examines U.S. roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 13, 7 PM
Truth and Justice for El Salvador
Unity Temple, 875 Lake St, Oak Park
Marina Ortz of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission and Bethany Loberg of SHARE El Salvador. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, April 15, 6 PM to 7 PM
"Crossing the Line" and "Doing Time for Peace"
57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St, Chicago
Rosalie Riegle on those who have stood up for peace. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, April 15, 6:30 PM
"The Last White Knight"
Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St, Chicago
Mississippi revisited, personally. Chicago premiere. $admission. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 16, 7 PM
Myjihad
Lombard Mennonite Church, 528 E. Madison St, Lombard
Angie Emara discusses a new campaign to educate the public on the real meaning of "Jihad". MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 17, 6:30 PM
Climate Change and Migration
Casa Michoacan, 1638 S. Blue Island Ave, Chicago
Discussion of climate change and migration, implications for U.S. immigration policy, international agreements. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 17, 7 PM to 9 PM
Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes: Challenges and Opportunities
Fire Department Administration Building, Main & 55th St, Downers Grove
Lake Michigan faces a surprising number of threats to its health. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 18, 7 PM
"Doctors of the Dark Side"
Northwestern University Parkes Hall 122, Sheridan and Chicago, Evanston
Documentary screening on medical participation in torture. Discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

Friday, April 19, 7 PM to 9 PM
"What Then Must We Do?"
UIC Student Services Building, 1200 W. Harrison, Chicago
Gar Alperovitz on his latest book. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 20, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
The Plight of Immigrant Workers
North Lawndale College Prep Collius Campus, 1313 S. Sacramento Blvd, Chicago
Half day conference on aspects of immigrant worker justice. $20. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 20, 1 PM
Israelis and Jewish Americans Speak Out Against Occupation
Open Door Repertory, 902 S. Ridgeland, Oak Park
Short videos and excerpts. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 20, 8 PM
Earth Day Program
Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Dennis Nelson of the Nuclear Energy Information Service. $3 tution plus meal. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, April 22, 6 PM to 7 PM
"The Real North Korea"
Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn, Chicago
Historian Andrei Lankov on North Korea's past, present, and likely future. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, April 22, 6:30 PM
"The Act of Killing"
Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St, Chicago
Two participants in the 1960s Indonesia massacres tell all. Indonesian with English subtitles. Chicago premiere. $admission. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 23, 2 PM to 2:50 PM
African American Education 1860 - 1930s
UIC CUPPA Hall Room 330, 412 S. Peoria, Chicago
The relationship between progressive and accommodationist curriculum workers and funders from the 1860s through the 1930s. MORE INFORMATION.

Tuesday, April 23, 3 PM to 4:30 PM
Generative Work
Great Cities Institute, 412 S. Peoria St, 4th Floor, Chicago
Nik Theodore on popular education and day labor organizing in the U.S. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 24, late afternoon
Support the Fair Wage
Downtown Chicago
TBA

Wednesday, April 24, 7 PM
The Earth Calls to Us
Homewood Public Library, 17917 Dixie Highway, Homewood
Dr. Richard Treptow presents a slideshow on climate change. MORE INFORMATION.

Wednesday, April 24, 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM
"Brokers of Deceit"
International House, 1414 E. 59th St, Chicago
Rashid Khalidi zeroes in on the United States's role as the purported impartial broker in a failed Middle East peace process. MORE INFORMATION.

Thursday, April 25, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
The West Virginia Mine Wars
Art Institute of Chicago Leroy Neiman Center, 37 S. Wabash Ave 1F, Chicago
Through talk, song, and slideshow by singer and writer Saro Lynch-Thomason. MORE INFORMATION.

Saturday, April 27, 8 PM
198 Methods of Protest and Persuasion
Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Tim Bolger on the ideas of Gene Sharp. $3 tuition plus meal. MORE INFORMATION.

Sunday, April 28, 2 PM
"Michael Harrington and Today's Other America"
Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St, Oak Park
Documentary and discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, April 29, 6:30 PM
"Rafea: Solar Mama"
Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St, Chicago
Evolving sex roles in Jordan. Chicago premiere. $admission. MORE INFORMATION.


New Ground #147.2

04.15.2013

Contents

0. DSA News

55 Years
"Today's Other America"
DSA in the News
Student / Youth Organizer

1. Politics

Death by a Thousand Budget Cuts
March BLS Jobs Report
Robin Hood Tax
Safe & Legal

2. People

Stephen Coats, 1952 - 2013

3. Democratic Socialism

The Femine Mystique at 50



DSA News

55 Years
In Chicago, any institution that has a 55 year run deserves some credit for its age. The 55th annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner will be soon: Friday, May 3rd, and the deadline for ordering tickets is Tuesday, April 30. We're honoring William McNary (Citizen Action/Illinois), Keith Kelleher (SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana), and the Chicago Teachers Union (AFT Local 1). Our featured speaker is Amy Dean (A New New Deal). Your support is absolutely, existentially crucial in keeping the flame of democratic socialism alive in Chicago. For more information, CLICK HERE.

"Today's Other America"
Sunday, April 28, 2 PM @ Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St, Oak Park: Directed by Bill Donovan and based on interviews done in the late 1990s, the film explores the ongoing relevance of the work of Michael Harrington, one of DSA's founders. Harrington's book The Other America helped launch President's Johnson's War on Poverty in 1964. Today, we face expanding poverty, the result of decades of corporate greed, declining rates of unionization and wages that haven't kept up with inflation -- and that was before the Great Recession and foreclosures hit.

The movie includes appearances by: Rush Limbaugh, Frances Fox Piven, Bogdan Denitch, Bob Herbert, Jeff Faux, Senator Edward Kennedy, Jim Chapin, Charles Murray, Staughton Lynd, Myron Magnet, Robert Kuttner, Joanne Barkan, Robert L. Heilbroner, John Kenneth Galbraith, (then) Representative Bernie Sanders, Joseph Murphy, among others. Music by Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Elaine Purkey, The Adjusters. Original music by Jody Elff.

DSA in the News
Despite storm warnings, members of the Kent State Young Democratic Socialists protested the university's decision to raise tuition rates, reported Kent Wired. A conservative attempt at manufacturing a controversy around some innocuous comments by MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry got some play at Politic365, where DSA National Director Maria Svart was solicited for comment, along with comments from the CPUSA's Libero della Piana and excerpts from The Communist Manifesto. And finally, it was probably the staff lay-offs at Time Out Chicago that accounts for this obscure outbreak of socialism at that venue.

Student / Youth Organizer
Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the US, and an affiliate of the global Socialist International, seeks an organizer for its youth division, the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS). The position includes work for both DSA and for our affiliated 501(c)3, the Democratic Socialists of America Fund. MORE INFORMATION.



Politics

Death by a Thousand Budget Cuts
(DETROIT, April 5) -- This morning, the Department of Labor announced that employers in the United States increased their payrolls by individuals for the month of March -- less than half of the estimates and far below the February jobs growth of 268,000. Following the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released this statement:

"With this unacceptable March jobs report it has become all too clear that the budgetary sequester, which arbitrarily cuts government spending by $85 billion this year alone and $1.2 trillion over the decade, has begun to hit the brakes on the country's economic engine," said Conyers.

MORE.

March BLS Jobs Report
The monthly Chicago Political Economy Group comment on the latest jobs numbers begins:

Today's jobs report underscores the weakness of the economy's crawl out of the depths of the "Lesser Depression" (LD), once again demonstrating that relying on private sector growth, even with massive and unprecedented Fed blowing up of a renewed financial sector and stock market bubble, is not going to set the U.S. economy on a path to broad based and sustainable prosperity, as CPEG has been saying for many years.

MORE.

Robin Hood Tax

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) will announce the reintroduction of The Inclusive Prosperity Act on Thursday, April 17, a bill inspired by the Robin Hood Tax and supported by a large and growing list of endorsers, now more than 140 organizations. The Ellison bill seeks to raise up to $350 billion annually through a sales tax on Wall Street financial transactions, funds whose goal is to rebuild our communities, assist international efforts to treat HIV/AIDS, and to combat climate change. The real recovery we all deserve is long overdue.

MORE.

State Representative Mary Flowers is seeking to put the Illinois House of Representatives, at least, on record as supporting the Ellison bill with HR0101. Currently Mary E. Flowers, La Shawn K. Ford, Monique D. Davis, Derrick Smith, Marcus C. Evans, Jr., Barbara Flynn Currie, and Esther Golar are listed as sponsors of the resolution. A hearing is scheduled by the Finance Subcommittee for April 16, 8:36 AM in the Capitol Building Room 114 in Springfield.

MORE.

Safe & Legal
Just because you're a U.S. citizen, or a legal resident, don't assume you're safe from being detained and maybe even deported. It's not legal, but it's happening HERE.


People

Stephen Coats, 1952 - 2013
At USLEAP:

It is with great sadness that we write that our beloved Executive Director of US LEAP, Stephen Coats, passed away the night of April 1 at the age of 61.  The cause was a heart attack resulting from a blocked artery. 

MORE.



Democratic Socialism

The Femine Mystique at 50
DSA National Vice-Chair and Chicago ex-pat Christine Riddiough revisits Betty Friedan's book:

I've been re-reading parts of the book recently, but I first read it when it was published in 1963. For my 17th birthday, my best friend gave me The Feminine Mystique. I was about to start my senior year of high school. It was my first real introduction to the idea of women's rights and women's liberation, and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I grew up in the Midwest (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) in the 1950s. It was middle America, suburban, white, middle class. In the early 1950s I found the two great interests of my life ­ politics and science. I loved watching the political conventions on our new TV and participating in mock elections at school. But I also dreamed about becoming an astronomer and going into space.

MORE.


Upcoming Events of Interest

For a listing of current events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.


New Ground #147.3

04.27.2013

Contents

0. DSA News

Are You Coming to Dinner?
Organizing Amid the Wreckage of the Wagner Act
DSA in the News

1. Politics

Robin Hood Rally
Rhetoric Trumps Reality
Sugar Boycott Ending

2. Ars Politica

Version Festival 13

3. Democratic Socialism

On the Death of Financialised Capitalism
We Have Always Been Rentiers

4. Letters

Controlled by Monopolists

5. Upcoming Events of Interest



DSA News

Are You Coming to Dinner?
Then you'd better get moving, because the Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner is on Friday evening, May 3rd, at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, next to the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. We need to hear from you by April 30!

Remember. No more fighting back. We fight forward.

For more information or to order tickets online, CLICK HERE.

Organizing Amid the Wreckage of the Wagner Act
Episode 26 of Talkin' Socialism, recorded 04.13.2013: Leah Fried of the United Electrical Workers and Stephen Yokich of Cornfield and Feldman discuss so-called "right-to-work" laws: the consequences for organizing and maintaining unions, how the spread of these laws are a part of a broader attack on unions, how does U.S. labor law compares with other countries. CLICK HERE.

DSA in the News
Kent State Young Democratic Socialists' campaign against tuition hikes was covered in The Nation. The Wednesday Journal carried this op-ed on poverty by Peg Strobel and Tom Broderick.



Politics

Robin Hood Rally

Nearly 2,000 people, decked out in Robin Hood hats and with giant puppets of Wall Street bankers descended on DC today to demand President Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew stop pursuing austerity and instead support a financial transaction tax on Wall Street, commonly referred to as a "Robin Hood Tax."

MORE.

For more information about the national campaign for a Robin Hood Tax, CLICK HERE.

In Illinois, Representative Mary Flowers' House Resolution in support of a Robin Hood Tax is scheduled for another hearing, 10 AM in Capitol Building Room 114 in Springfield.

Rhetoric Trumps Reality

Top-down pressure from federal education policies such as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, bolstered by organized advocacy efforts, is making a popular set of market-oriented education "reforms" look more like the new status quo than real reform. Reformers assert that test-based teacher evaluation, increased access to charter schools, and the closure of "failing" and under-enrolled schools will boost at-risk students' achievement and narrow longstanding race- and income-based achievement gaps. This new report from the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education examines these assertions by comparing the impacts of these reforms in three large urban school districts -- Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago -- with student and school outcomes over the same period in other large, high-poverty urban districts. The report finds that the reforms deliver few benefits, often harm the students they purport to help, and divert attention from a set of other, less visible policies with more promise to weaken the link between poverty and low educational attainment.

MORE.

Sugar Boycott Ending
The boycott of American Crystal Sugar (see New Ground 138.1 "The Not So Sweet Truth" and New Ground 144.2 "Boycott American Crystal Sugar") is apparently coming to an end as the union locals involved have voted to accept a new contract, essentially the same contract they had rejected four times previously over the past 20 months. MORE INFORMATION.

Note that the boycott notice is still posted, so there may be some unresolved return to work issues.


Ars Politica

Version Festival 13
"...will focus on beta testing a collectively-produced open source operating system for our urban environment. We call it Urban OS. It's not just technology based, It's a human network. We will present works and projects that serve the common good, and connect us to services that everyone can use in our neighborhoods and cities. This collection of real world software can help us manage the hardware of our urban environment, and create even more opportunities for renewing our public space." MORE.



Democratic Socialism

On the Death of Financialised Capitalism
At Renewal, Bill Blackwater writes:

...the bubble of financialisation can't be blown any bigger, and that's that. And nor will somehow trying to rebalance growth away from the City enable us to pick up where we left off before financialisation took over. Without an exploration of alternative thinking, social democratic parties will struggle to convince electorates that they should be in power, not while the prevailing prescription for economic crisis is austerity: in a Zeitgeist dominated by public spending cuts, the right have the advantage, since that's in their DNA. Or parties of the left will win elections by default, as the nasty medicine of austerity fails to turn the economy round and people grow increasingly sick of it. But even then, once they are in power, unless they can consider alternative ideas, they will remain trapped within the terms of neo-liberalism, and their management of the economy -- the reason they will have been elected -- will be doomed to failure.

MORE.

We Have Always Been Rentiers
Chicago DSA ex-pat Peter Frase writes:

...Just as capitalism required that the commons in land be enclosed and transformed into the property of individuals, so what I've called "rentism" requires the extension of intellectual property: the right to control the copying and modification of patterns, and not just of physical objects.

But the development of rentism entails not just a change in the laws, but in the way the economy itself is measured and defined. Since capitalism is rooted in the quantitative reduction of human action to the accumulation of money, the way in which it quantifies itself has great economic and political significance.

MORE.



Letters

Controlled by Monopolists
To the Editor:
We are under the control of Monopolists. They run the Country. What is obvious to me is that neither major political party seems to recognize this fact. We, the citizens of this Country suffer the indignities of the above fact and four other examples from pages 14 and 15 of the Progressive Populist of April 15, 2013.

  1. Jesse Jackson, "College Cost Crisis": "Student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion, greater than credit card debt. And student debt can't be erased by bankruptcy or job loss." My comment is: How ignoble and debasing for the supposedly wealthiest Country. In lesser countries, higher education is paid for by the Country.
  2. Hank Kalet, "Homelessness Byproduct of Corporate Capitalism". Kalet writes about moving the Tent City homeless encampment in Lakewood Township, New Jersey, "But it leaves in place the basic systemic flaw that leads to homelessness in the first place -- an economic system that relies on the creation of and socialization of waste to generate profit."
  3. Wenonah Hauter, "Smithfield on 'Most Admired Companies'?". "Global pork titan Smithfield has ranked second among food production companies on Fortune magazine's 2013 list of "Most Admired Companies". Smithfield has a legacy of family farm destruction, labor abuses and environmental devastation. What's to admire about that? Either the world's top executives are completely out of touch or this list is a shameless exercise in worshipping the bottom line, at all costs."
  4. Sam Uretsky, "Not Enough Supplemental Information". This concerns the Dietry Supplement Program of the FDA. "So we can go out and buy products that don't work, and products that may well be toxic, and the FDA has neither the staff nor the congressional mandate to stop us. Times like this, Kris Kristofferson's famous lyric "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" sounds like a way of saying "your money or your life." Or maybe both."

Sincerely,
Fred J. Dietz, Sr.



Upcoming Events of Interest

For a listing of current events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.


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